Iran appeals to Russia Central Asian countries to resist to U.S.

Amid a deepening feud with the West over Iran's nuclear program, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made the appeal at a summit meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, or SCO, which groups China, Russia and nine Central and South Asian nations.

Ahmadinejad's remarks were the most strident, but not the only call for the grouping to stand up to the West and emerge as an alternative to U.S.-led multinational organizations.

Russian President Vladimir Putin called for closer military ties to combat terrorism. Uzbekistan's Islam Karimov criticized unnamed outside interests for sowing discord in the region, the AP reports.

The rhetoric seemed likely to heighten concerns in the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush that the Shanghai grouping is emerging as an anti-U.S. bloc. It also comes as divisions sharpened in the U.N. Security Council with China and Russia resisting U.S. and European initiatives to pressure Iran into freezing its uranium enrichment program.